B/R's Top-10 Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 252

Tom TaylorContributor IAugust 18, 2020

B/R's Top-10 Pound-for-Pound Rankings After UFC 252

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The official UFC rankings are a farce. That sounds harsh, but it's the truth. 

    The entire system seems to be predicated on the whim and fancies of the voting panelists, many of whom don't even appear to closely follow mixed martial arts. There is no consistency in terms of what happens when a ranked fighter changes weight classes or retires. There is legitimate evidence that suggests the UFC nudges its ranking panelists in the directions it deems most suitable. The list of issues goes on and on and on.

    We here at Bleacher Report are tired of it and have decided to take a stand by creating our own UFC pound-for-pound lists: one list for men and another for women. 

    We will update our new pound-for-pound rankings after each UFC pay-per-view, and with a little luck, bring some order to the chaotic world of mixed martial arts. Then again, we might also just become a lightning rod for some of the backlash that's typically directed at the official UFC rankings. Time will tell.

    Without further ado, here are the B/R Pound-for-Pound UFC Rankings after last Saturday’s action-packed UFC 252 card in Las Vegas. 

Men: No. 10-6

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    10. Petr Yan

    9. Max Holloway

    8. Justin Gaethje

    7. Dustin Poirier

    6. Alexander Volkanovski

    The bottom half of our men's pound-for-pound top 10 hasn't changed much since our last rankings update, but there is one notable shake-up.  

    The official UFC rankings do not seem to have any consistent protocols in terms of what happens when a fighter retires from competition. Sometimes, retiring fighters will be booted from the rankings immediately. Other times, they'll linger in the rankings for months after their retirement announcements. The latest example of this glaring inconsistency? Henry Cejudo was ejected from the UFC bantamweight rankings and the men's pound-for-pound rankings almost immediately following his retirement announcement in May. Conor McGregor, meanwhile, is still featured in both the lightweight rankings and on the men's pound-for-pound list despite retiring in June.

    One of the main goals of these B/R rankings is to exercise a little more consistency in that area, so allow us to introduce a new hard-and-fast rule: when a fighter announces their retirement, they're no longer eligible for our rankings. That's not to say they can't work their way back into the rankings after making a comeback, but once they announce their retirement, they're ineligible for the duration of that retirement.

    That means Daniel Cormier, who confirmed his retirement plans after losing a decision to Stipe Miocic in the UFC 252 main last weekend, is off our list. He held the No. 5 spot in the most recent edition of these rankings, but having closed the curtains on his illustrious career, has been cut from our Top 10, clearing the way for another fighter to enter.

    That fighter is none other than new UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan, who earned his belt with a fifth-round TKO win over Jose Aldo at UFC 251 in July.

    After winning the bantamweight title, Yan very nearly made it into the last edition of these rankings, but he hadn't done quite enough to surpass the likes of former featherweight champ Max Holloway, interim lightweight champ Justin Gaethje, longtime lightweight contender Dustin Poirier or reigning UFC featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski.

    With Cormier out, however, he's now a shoo-in.

Men: No. 5-1

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    Michael Zarrilli/Associated Press

    5. Israel Adesanya

    4. Stipe Miocic

    3. Kamaru Usman

    2. Khabib Nurmagomedov

    1. Jon Jones 

    As we've already covered, the big changes to our men's pound-for-pound list stem from Daniel Cormier's exit.

    When Cormier retired after his UFC 252 loss to heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, he became ineligible for our rankings, clearing the way for UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, previously ranked at No. 6, to climb up to the No. 5 spot.

    Some readers will likely question why Miocic didn't move up our pound-for-pound rankings at all after defeating Cormier at UFC 252. While it was tempting to give him a boost, it just didn't feel right to move him ahead of UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

    Miocic is now irrefutably the best heavyweight in UFC history, but he has lost relatively recently, having been knocked out by Cormier in 2018. Usman, meanwhile, hasn't lost since 2013, despite Octagon collisions with top welterweights like Leon Edwards, Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.

    In a world where Kamaru Usman didn't exist, Miocic would undoubtedly have snagged our No. 3 spot by defeating Cormier last weekend, but he still hasn't done enough to displace the welterweight champ. That could change, of course, if Miocic winds up defending his title against light heavyweight legend Jon Jones, who remains our No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. 

    On Tuesday, Jones announced that he has vacated the UFC light heavyweight title and divulged that he's negotiating with the UFC about a move up to the heavyweight division. If he starts making waves in a second weight class, his status as MMA's pound-for-pound king will be even more bulletproof. 

    With all of that cleared up, let's move onto the women…

Women: No. 10-6

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    10. Holly Holm

    9. Katlyn Chookagian

    8. Tatiana Suarez

    7. Germaine de Randamie

    6. Jessica Andrade 

    The outside spot on our women's pound-for-pound list is still held by former UFC bantamweight champion and multiple-time UFC featherweight title challenger Holly Holm, but her spot remains in jeopardy because of her inconsistency over the last few years. A loss in her fight with Mexico's Irene Aldana, scheduled for October 3, will undoubtedly result in her exit from these hallowed ranks.

    Our No. 9 spot is still occupied by Katlyn Chookagian, who recently rebounded from a loss to UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko with a decisive win over the champ's sister, Antonina.

    Our No. 8 spot, meanwhile, still belongs to Tatiana Suarez, who has been plagued by stretches of inactivity, but is undeniably one of the very best female fighters on the planet, and seems like a future member of our Top 5.

    In our No. 7 spot, we have former UFC featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie, who has recently reaffirmed her reputation as one of the toughest women in the UFC by knocking out Aspen Ladd and giving our pound-for-pound queen Amanda Nunes a very tough test in a bantamweight title fight. She could conceivably take a step up this list if she performs well against Julianna Pena on October 3.

    The No. 6 fighter on our women's pound-for-pound list remains former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, who looked good in a recent split decision loss to Rose Namajunas. While Andrade hasn't moved since our last rankings update, that could change if she defeats Jessica Eye in the pair's upcoming flyweight fight. Here at B/R, we're big on fighters who have success across multiple weight classes.

Women: No. 5-1

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    5. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

    4. Rose Namajunas

    3. Weili Zhang

    2. Valentina Shevchenko

    1. Amanda Nunes

    Our No. 5 spot is still held by Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is easily the most accomplished strawweight in UFC history and certainly one of the best female fighters ever. Jedrzejczyk has had some tough setbacks of late, stumbling against Weili Zhang, Valentina Shevchenko and Rose Namajunas in the last few years, but those women comprise three out of our top five. In other words, they're the kind of fighters one can't be shamed for losing to.

    At No. 4 is the two-time Jedrzejczyk foil and former strawweight champ Namajunas. Namajunas recently rebounded from an infamous slam-induced knockout to Andrade with a split-decision triumph in their UFC 251 rematch. From here, it looks like she could get the next crack at the reigning champion Zhang, but the bout is still not official. If Namajunas gets the opportunity and reclaims the title, expect her to take a big climb up this list.

    The aforementioned Zhang is our No. 3-ranked fighter. The UFC has her ranked at No. 2, which is understandable based on her recent victories over Jedrzejczyk and Andrade, but we feel she needs a few more wins over top-flight foes to displace our No. 2 fighter, who is starting to look as unbeatable as male pound-for-pound stalwarts like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones.

    That fighter, of course, is the flyweight champion Shevchenko. Since capturing the vacant title with a decision win over Jedrzejczyk, Shevchenko has decimated her first three challengers in Chookagian, Liz Carmouche and Eye. She's lost twice since joining the UFC, but both of those losses were close decisions against Nunes in the bantamweight division, where she's at a significant size disadvantage. She's also got some nice bantamweight wins to her name, including triumphs over Holm and Julianna Pena. As we've already covered, we here at B/R like fighters who perform well across multiple weight classes.

    The name at the top of our women's rankings should not come as a surprise to anybody. Nunes holds the UFC featherweight and bantamweight titles in a vice grip and has defeated every other woman to hold titles in either division. For those with short memories, that includes De Randamie, Holm, Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. Throw in her two wins over Shevchenko, and her status as MMA's pound-for-pound queen is absolutely irrefutable.